Babylon 5: Season 2 [DVD]
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All the episodes of the second season of the dark and gritty Space Station based drama. In 'Points of Departure', Sinclair leaves the station to travel to the Minbari homeworld to become an ambassador to the old enemies. His replacement is Captain Sheridan, a man the Minbari hate for crimes against their people in the war, so he must make them accept him or risk another war. In 'Revelations', Londo becomes increasingly involved with the ancient race of the Shadows and by doing so orders the death of 10,000 Narns in Quadrant 37. In 'The Geometry of Shadows', some Techno Mages give Londo the benefit of their prescience by foreseeing the effects of his deal with the Shadows. In 'A Distant Star', a freighter arrives at the station from the rim where huge spider-like ships (shadows?) keep appearing and disappearing. When the freighter gets stuck in hyperspace Babylon 5 starfuries are despatched to rescue it, but there is something spider-like in hyperspace as well. In 'The Long Dark' an ancient space-ship is discovered near the station, and its contents create mystery and danger for the Babylon station. In 'Spider in the Web', a fanatical free-Mars fighter is stalking the station killing all who get in his way. When the murderer is scanned by a telepath it is revealed that he is already dead. In 'A Race Through the Dark Places', PSi Corp's Bester returns to try and block the escape route for rogue telepaths. In 'Soul Mates', Londo discovers that he can divorce two of his three wives, but does not know which one to keep. Meanwhile, Talia Winters is visited by a rogue telepath who intends to give her a gift to change her powers. In 'The Coming of Shadows', the five year story arc is furthered when the elderly Centauri Emperor arrives on the station and a group of Centauri nationalists decide that it is Ambassador Mollari's time as Emperor, and Londo uses his links with the Shadows to help his cause. In 'GROPOS', Dr Franklin's father visits the station and tries to resolve their differences even though his thoughts are really on the military manoeuvres that he is organising. At the same time, the station is flooded with GROPOS (Ground Pounders) troops from Earth Force making the running of the facility even more complicated. In 'All Alone in the Night', Captain Sheridan is kidnapped by aliens and subjected to a series of bizarre tests. Meanwhile Delenn is removed from the Minbari Grey Council, a move that may have repercussions at a later date (in series 3, maybe). In 'Acts of Sacrifice', G'Kar asks Earth and Minbari representatives to help the Narn in the war with the Centauri. He finds his position more difficult when a young Narn declares unofficial war on any Centauri on the station. In 'Hunter, Prey', an Earth Force agent arrives on the station chasing a physician who used to care for the late President Santiago. Sheridan discovers that the doctor is carrying evidence that could implicate President Clarke in his predecessor's assassination. In 'And Now For a Word', the day-to-day running of the station is the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary made by the Interstellar News Network. In 'There All the Honor Lies', Sheridan kills a prominent Minbari, and his pleas of self defence go unheeded. It seems that militant Minbaris may be plotting against him - the man they call 'StarKiller'. In 'Knives', an old friend of Ambassador Mollari asks for his help, but Londo feels that he must refuse because he will make an enemy of Lord Refa. Meanwhile, Sheridan investigates a supposedly haunted section of the station. In 'In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum', Captain Sheridan breaks the rules when he realises the Morden was aboard the same ship as the one where his wife died. Delenn and Kosh stop him from exposing Morden as an agent for the Shadows, saying that the forces of light are not yet ready for the confrontation that this will cause. This story is one of the most vital in the long-running story arc. In 'Confessions and Lamentations', an epidemic begins to spread through one of the alien races aboard the station. The disease, which is 100 per cent lethal, is related to immorality and therefore a taboo subject. The doctor has to battle in order to save an entire race from the disease (which may or may not have something to do with the Shadows). In 'The Long Twilight Struggle', the Narn attempt to launch a crucial strike on a Centauri supply base, but the Centauri are forewarned and use the help of the Shadows to defeat the attack. This opens up the Narn homeworld to a devastating attack. In 'Divided Loyalties', former Psi-Cop Lyta Alexander returns to the station with news that there is a traitor among the staff. The problem is that the traitor has had their real personality hidden by telepathic techniques and does not know that they are rotten to the core. Sheridan decides to try and find the traitor using scans, but Ivanova refuses to be scanned. In 'Comes the Inquisitor', G'Kar tries to unite the disparate groups of exiled Narns to face off against the Centauri. Delenn and Sheridan have their faith tested by a human emmissary. It is Kosh's way of seeing that the two of them are up to the challenge of the Shadow War. Finally in 'The Fall of Night', Sheridan receives some disturbing news about Earth's standing in the Narn/Centauri situation. Keffer's tape of the creature in hyperspace reveals the existence of the Shadows, the Nightwatch tighten their grip on the station and Kosh leaves his encounter suit to save Sheridan's life.
Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxlietner) arrives on Babylon 5 in the first episode of the second series, "Points of Departure", which marks the handing over of command of B5 to Sheridan from Commander Jeffery Sinclair (actor Michael O'Hare had become a victim of studio politicians who wanted a bigger star in the leading role). This excellent instalment also reveals more about why the Minbari surrendered to Earth at the Battle of the Line when they were on the verge of victory. "Revelations" explains that Sheridan's wife, Anna, died during an archaeological survey of the world Z'ha'dum, the name being just one of many oblique references to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. "The Geometry of Shadows" introduces the Technomages, characters who featured more significantly in the ill-fated spin-off series Crusade (1999), while "The Coming of Shadows" proved to be Babylon 5's finest hour. The story of political intrigue foreshadowing the fate of two of the major characters won the Hugo award for the Best Dramatic Presentation at the 1996 World Science Fiction Convention and proved so powerful that J Michael Straczynski included it in his Complete Book of Scriptwriting.
"And Now for a Word" takes the unusual step of presenting a day-in-the-life of B5 seen through the eyes of a TV news crew, just as the Narn declare war on the Centauri. The inclusion of a PSI-Corps commercial paid homage to Paul Verhoeven's satirical ads in Robocop (1987). In "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum", Sheridan learns that Morden was on the ship on which Anna died, this episode seeing the Captain pushed to his limits by grief and determination to discover why Morden survived. Three exceptional shows conclude the year. The Narn-Centauri war escalates in "The Long, Twilight Struggle", Sheridan faces a most unusual ordeal in "Comes the Inquisitor", while in "The Fall of Night" all hope of peace is shattered as a nerve-wracking assassination attempt reveals a startling secret about Ambassador Kosh.
On the DVD: Babylon 5--Series 2 presents all 22 episodes anamorphically enhanced at 16:9, with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Originally shot with eventual widescreen presentation in mind, the programmes looks far better than they did when broadcast. The effects shots, reformatted from full-screen CGI, show occasional pixilation, but the new compositions are more dynamic than the old 4:3. Always a show with powerful audio, the remixed soundtrack is rich and involving, if lacking in the bass punch and complex layering of much more expensive cinema productions. Extras are an introduction to Series 2 (eight mins) and Building Babylon: Blueprint of an Episode (13 mins), is a perfunctory promotional piece. More interesting is Shadows and Dreams, an eight-minute feature on B5's two Hugo Awards. Three episodes have commentaries, with J Michael Straczynski examining the politics, mythology and production of In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum and The Fall of Night, and stars Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian and Jerry Doyle have a decidedly low-brow laugh-fest through The Geometry of Shadows. There is an alternative French soundtrack and subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. --Gary S Dalkin
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Top Customer Reviews
Season 2 finally picks up the pace and begins to show the promise of what this series could do. While many of the stories are still stand alones, things begin to heat up and the arc gets moving. While some of the mysteries of season one are finally revealed, they only leave more questions. And the power of the writing and performances steps up a notch. In fact, it was the first time I watched the season’s title episode, “The Coming of Shadows,” that I knew I would be a fan for a long time to come. Yet there are still some very fun character stories and moments, like “Soul Mates” and Ivanova’s storyline in “Acts of Sacrifice.”
Once again, this set has all 22 episodes from the season on 6 discs. Picture quality could still use a little improvement, but it’s a minor complaint and the programs sound fine. The data files are helpful to newbies, but I found them a little redundant. What I did find interesting was the timeline. Covering events through the end of this season (2259), it helped me place in “history” various events only talked about during the show.Read more ›
Other have spoken at length about the season's storylines so I will concentrate on the technical aspects of the DVDs themselves. The picture quality in this season is a marked improvement over the first season DVDs but is still very variable. Certain shots are nice and crisp while others are distinctly fuzzy. The special effects shots however are much better this season. Unlike the first season, they were done on PC rather than an Amiga and were created in 16:9 format meaning they transfer to DVD without additional cropping and zooming which resulted in very pixelated effects in the first season DVDs. Like the first season, there is a decent range of extras including commentaries on certain episodes.
One thing that has not been improved sadly is the packaging. The DVDs come in a plastic case that is surrounded by a very thin cardboard sleave. The manufacturers really need to look at how Buffy/Angel package their season DVD sets and come up with something more robust. Overall I give this release 4 stars. It is an excellent show only let down by the patchy picture quality and poor packaging.
In parts the episodes on this DVD are a lower quality than the episodes I recorded myself several years ago. Where the quality is not less it can only be said to be equal to the old VHS tapes.
In addition, it looks as though the image has been zoomed in a very small amount to the extent that peoples heads occasionally slide off the top of the picture.
It also looks as though some tinkering has occured with the brightness and contrast. Frequently the picture is way darker than it should be and every now and then the picture is very badly granulated, a clear indication of poor quality over processing of the video stream.
And if thats not bad enough....over time VHS tapes degrade and this results in artifacts apearing on screen...the equivelant of scratches in film. These DVD's display all those artifacts that you might expect to see on an older vhs tape.
It therefore seems to me that these disks are no more than a badly engineered copy of a load grade VHS tape or equivelant.
Very disapointing indeed.
The season title is 'The Coming of Shadows'. We see Londo's agonising descent into darkness as his ambition, with the aid of the mysterious Shadows, starts to become terrifying reality. Earth is in turmoil due to events at the end of the last season, and some very sinister things start to happen there. We learn what a Vorlon looks like under his encounter suit. In short, the arc moves up a couple of gears, until by the end of the season you're left gasping, desperate to see the continuation.
There are some truly magnificent (never bettered) episodes in this season. The Hugo award winning "The Coming of Shadows" episode is the obvious first WHAM! episode, and stands out. With audio commentary by series creator J. Michael Straczynski this will be interesting even if you've seen it dozens of times. Other highlights include: "The Long Twilight Struggle" (with cast commentary), "The Fall of Night" (with JMS commentary), "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum", "And Now For A Word", "Comes The Inquisitor", "Acts of Sacrifice" and many more. Basically, the quality just jumps up a few notches with this season, and if you've only ever experienced Star Trek before, this season will show you just what TV SF can be and should be.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Babylon fan here, had it all on VHS and now replaced with DVD, worth watching!Published 1 month ago by T. James
The greatest sci-fi TV series of them all.
Not many shows can pull the main character after just one season, and actually get better, but Babylon 5 pulls this off with... Read more
I received this box set with thrill as I love this series and have started watching the series. I however was amazed to find the booklet that comes with it not in English instead... Read morePublished 11 months ago by David Cole
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